5 MAY 1894, Page 14


THE "SPECTATOR."] SIR,—Permit me, a s another " Old Invalid," to add my word to what is being said in your columns as to the evil of making books so heavy and the way the excessive weight prevents many people reading what they would otherwise wish to read. To show that the complaint is not a new one, as Mr. Murray's letter would seem to suggest, I may quote from a letter written as long ago as 1865. It is printed in " The Life of C. Darwin," VoL III., p. 35, and was addressed by Darwin to Sir C. Lyell:- I want to make a suggestion to you. I found the weight of your volume intolerable, especially when lying down, so with great boldness I cut it into two pieces, and took it out of its cover. Now,

could not Murray, without any other change, add to-his advertise- ment a line saying, ' if bound in two volumes ls. or is. 6d. extra' P' You might thus originate a change which would be a blessing to- all weak-handed readers."

Since that time the evil has increased. Books which in old days would have appeared in three volumes are now put into:. two. My edition of Boswell's "Johnson" has about three hundred and twenty pages. The two volumes of Stanley's- " Life" are five hundred and sixty-four and six hundred pages. And surely publishers might use thinner paper, only not letting it be so thin as to be transparent. Anyhow, a volume of five hundred or six hundred pages is a serious- burden to strong hands, and a prohibitive weight for weak